2008-07-14

The mood of a nation: Quesnel, B.C.

Eighteen-wheelers hauling timbre regularly barrel down the roads in Quesnel, kicking up plumes of dust that seem to be a constant presence. Claude Paquet of Clan Logging says he’s noticed the town is windier these days, perhaps because needles gradually fall from the trees killed by the mountain pine beetle, leaving less foliage to block the wind. As if the town needed another reminder of the beetle infestation.

Quesnel is one of the most forestry-dependent communities in British Columbia, and the industry has of course been hurt by the high dollar and heavy reliance on the weakening U.S. market. A recession is obviously a concern here, but the pine beetle’s destruction of the local timbre supply is probably a bigger one.

Up until now, the pine beetle has kept some forestry workers busy. Loggers are grabbing whatever remaining wood they can. Norm Gardner, manager of the Silvagro Partnership, a local nursery, is growing more to replace those trees, but that could soon come to an end. “We’ve had clients cancel orders, and we’ve had clients go into receivership this year,” he says. “We’re dealing with a lot of things I’ve never experienced before.”